I'll play 1. e4 if you promise not to play 1....c6. Deal?
Since Bobby never saw fit to extend his excellent "Bust to the Openings" series beyond the King's Gambit, we'll take a look at one of his most troubled openings for a clear bust. Much to my surprise, a total refutation exists in the much-studied classical, or Capablanca, variation. Long thought to have been analyzed to a virtual draw, we will now prove this line to end in disaster for Black in all variations. Computer analysis and world champions may disagree, but rather than personally defeat the naysayers on the way to world fame I will share my insights with you, so together we can wreak havoc on the weekend quads of America.
Best by test
1... c6 2. d4 d5
White has the precious pawn duo but Black smartly responds in the center
3. Nc3 dxe
Not much choice for Black here - either he has to go into a Modern with 3....g6 or he will have trouble developing his pieces without the pawn exchange. Now the question - Black gives White's knight a free ride the center, but what is it worth?
4. Nxe4 Bf5
The main move, most challenging. Black gets his light-squared bishop out of prison with tempo, and looks to play a favorable version of the Slav. Also possible are ....Nd7 or ....Nf6, though I think those lines lead to comfortable edges to White as a rule. Perhaps we'll return to those later.
5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4!? h6
Alekhine once considered h4!? too exotic and thought that Bd3, O-O and c3 were enough to give White a plus. However, in the church of Yaacov we have faith in Black's position where Black will build light bricks on c6 and e6 leaving his dark-squared bishop happy. Conversely White's remaining bishop stares forlornly at c3 and d4, and asks 'Why??'. No, more concessions must be extracted from Black and a kingside bind with h4-h5 is thought to be the ticket, though of course the h-pawn can become a weakness. ('A typical dilemma in modern opening play' -Kasparov)
7. Nf3 Nd7
In recent times Black has also been trying ...Nf6!?, letting the White knight jump into e5 with the threat to snap the bishop on g6. However, the bishop can retreat to h7 and Black seeks to prove that the knight on e5 is a weakness. Black delays the development of the knight on b8 with the hopes of getting in ...c5 and ...Nc6 (Gallagher points out that this move is a rare achivement for Black in the Caro-Kann). A subtlety worth exploring? This is one of the challenges in fighting the Caro-Kann - one must have the same tolerance for pain that a Caro player has. Again, perhaps we'll return to this later.
8. h5 Bh7 9. Bd3 BxB 10. QxB
And so Black has not only got his light-squared bishop into play but has exchanged it for White's LSB, a strong achievement! However, white concedes this as a prerequisite for queenside castling, which is the only way to leverage the advanced h-pawn in his favor through future kingside pawn advances. Now Black is at a crossroads with several choices that we will take a look at in the future. Where to castle? How to develop? 10 moves of theory but we're only halfway there. Tolerance for pain - respect it in your opponent, nurture it in yourself. Positional understanding must prove victorious. More later.